RG: I’ve talked to lots of family members, my mother in particular, about our family history. My great-grandmother had 17 children; my mother had 41 first cousins. There’s lots of story there! Recently, my son Adam began researching on an internet site, where we uncovered some interesting primary source documents, and tracked down relatives we didn’t know we had.
Kathy: Although Victoria grew up around a restaurant, one reason she wants to return to the Jersey Shore is to finally learn to cook from her grandmother. Did your grandma teach you to cook? How do you rate yourself as a cook: beginner, expert, somewhere in between, or don't even ask?
RG: One of my grandmothers specialized in Neopolitan cooking, and the other Sicilian. I spent time in the kitchen watching them, but I would say I taught myself to cook. I’m a good cook, particularly with rustic dishes. I’m not fancy and I’m not quite an expert, but I make a darn good pasta fagioli and my Bolognese sauce is more than respectable.
Kathy: Murder and Marinara is the first Italian Kitchen Mystery. If you could only eat one Italian dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
RG: Homemade fresh pasta with marinara sauce, of course.
Kathy: Gio Parisi is a slimy reality show producer. What's your feeling about reality TV?
RG: It’s mixed. I dislike shows in which people are humiliated or encouraged to debase themselves. But I adore Project Runway and Top Chef. So you could say I’m conflicted about it.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
RG: My agent, who suggested I try my hand at one!
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
RG: I write women’s fiction as Rosemary DiBattista. I’m working on a limited series of romantic comedies based on Shakespeare plays.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
RG: The Italian Kitchen Mysteries are set at an Italian restaurant at the Jersey shore, featuring Victoria Rienzi, a mystery writer and amateur sleuth.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
RG: My favorite character is Nonna, Vic’s grandmother. She’s based on my own grandmas, whom I miss very much.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
RG: Several—the Jersey shore, my own family, and my love of good food. I’m also a fan of the Golden Age mystery authors, such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Josephine Tey.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
RG: I’ve wanted to be published my whole life, so it wasn’t really a decision. More like an obsession.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
RG: William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf. And I’d be too terrified to engage in dinner conversation with any of them.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
RG: I am avidly following Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, re-reading the late Barbara Michaels’ romantic suspense novels, and about to start Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies. Jo Baker’s Longbourn is also on my TBR pile, as I am an Austen fanatic.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
RG: I love antiques, old movies, Shakespeare, walking around New York City, sitting on the beach, and when I get the time, sewing. Reading, of course, tops the list!
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
RG: Pasta, beans, tomatoes, and fresh fruit.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
RG: I’ve signed for three books in the Italian Kitchen Mystery series. I’m playing with an idea for a time travel mystery series set in the 1950s. (If you love the idea, please tell my editor.)
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
RG: Meeting other authors. Learning from them, and forging friendships. It’s an exciting world.
You can find out more about Rosie Genova at her website or Facebook page:
Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova
The First Italian Kitchen Mystery
Did you ever want to do something different? Spread your wings a bit and do the unexpected? That’s what Victoria Rienzi wants to do in Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova. Although she’s a successful mystery writer, Vic wants to write her dream story, a historical novel based on her family history.
She leaves New York City and heads home to the Jersey Shore and her family’s Italian restaurant, The Casa Lido. Instead of quiet writing time and family research, she discovers her former boyfriend is the new sous chef and her family is in the middle of a protest against a rowdy reality show and its slimy producer. When said producer winds up dead in the restaurant’s garden after eating a Casa Lido meal Vic finds herself in the middle of a real life murder mystery.
Rosie Genova has crafted an intriguing mystery with authentic Italian flair. Murder and Marinara transported me to the Jersey Shore. I could smell the cotton candy and feel the beach breeze even though I’ve never physically been to New Jersey. Victoria, Vic Rienzi is not only likable, but believable. In fact, all of the main characters have a depth to them, making them more real.
Rosie Genova delivers an enjoyable mystery filled with authentic characters. I see the possibilities within them and I look forward to watching them grow in future books. Although this particular mystery ended I want to come back to the Jersey Shore to see what else will develop. Plus, although Nonna is quite formidable, I’d love to learn some of her recipes!